I’m writing this in smallish parts, because if I don’t do it this way it’ll never get done. Turns out, three children are a time-suck! Part one here. (And yo, there will totally be a Part 3 and maybe 4. NOT FINISHED YET.)
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
We check in at 8 am for a scheduled induction due to crazypants high blood pressure (170/100) and protein in my urine at 40+ weeks pregnant. Okay, fine, let’s just call it preeclampsia. My parents arrived sometime after dinner last night, so the girls are at home with them, waiting. The really annoying part is my parents just spent a long weekend with us (just in case he decided to be born!) and went home on Monday afternoon. It was a little painful to have to call my mother Tuesday afternoon and say, “Um…Can you get in the car like….now? And come 4 hours north? I’m having a baby tomorrow, if not sooner.” (OF COURSE that’s how it worked out because things like that always do.) (And OF COURSE my mother didn’t mind.)
It is so different to go to this hospital while it’s light out, without a drunk lady in the ER. Even though I had hoped to go into labor on my own (and I’m probably IN some sort of prodromal labor) I’m feeling okay about this induction. There’s no denying that staying pregnant with my consistently high blood pressure readings puts me into a risk pool I absolutely want to avoid. I’m going to get an edipural right away, it’s not going to be horrible like it was with Claire, and I’m practically in active labor anyway so this should be fairly simple. Give me the drugs, I will give birth, then bring me a lunch tray. Because yo, I am totally having this baby by lunch.
I am situated in a room, I sign papers, we do a lot of waiting. My nurse has just come back from HER maternity leave and I am her first patient. It turns out my midwife delivered HER baby so we’re all very chummy in this room. (And really, there’s nothing like the endorsement you get from THE NURSES when they choose YOUR MIDWIFE to deliver THEIR OWN BABIES.) But, things are taking foreverrrrrr. I start to wonder if we’re on schedule for my lunch tray. I mean, I’ll have to be delivering by 11 or so to get one! LUNCH TRAY, PEOPLE. I HAVE NOT HAD BREAKFAST.
Nothing happens for a while, to my dismay and growing impatience. Heather (my midwife) visits first thing, she checks me and agrees that a lunch tray is very likely. By 9 am I have an IV going but they want to start my pitocin before my epidural. I make a face and ask for my epidural first because HA HA I DID THAT ONCE AND NEVER EVER AGAIN.
“We usually like to see a good pattern of contractions before the epidural,” my nurse says.
Oh, no no no no, I say. Please speak with Heather. I will not be having the pitocin without the epidural. You are a HILARIOUS lady if you think I am. I have been to this rodeo. THIRD BABY, YO. She checks with Heather and tells me the anesthesiologist will be right over. That sounds more like it.
Of course, this takes a while. ”Right over” is a relative term in a hospital. He has to place it twice but I really don’t care. EPIDURRRRRRAL! By 1130 I’m shouting the joys of the epidural and talking about how being at the hospital is kind of nice because people bring me things and nobody whines at me. However, it is clear that since we’ve gotten a slow start (1130 and we’re really just getting all things running) I will not be getting a lunch tray and this is SAD, VERY VERY SAD because I am STAAAAAARVING.
I send this photo to Lauren and Arwen, who I texted through the entire thing and who were INCREDIBLY HELPFUL AND SUPPORTIVE and I can’t thank them enough for the full day of coaching and support they gave me. Really, Chris was great (he was!), but talking to two women who had been through four pregnancies and almost everything I had? While I was going through it? It was awesome. I am not going to lie, I was feeling real SISTERHOOD! moments there. I can’t possibly think about Preston’s birth without thinking about Lauren and Arwen and how much they helped me that day.
(Despite my extreme hunger, I appear to be in good spirits.)
The baby is moving, reactive and looking good on the monitor. For now I seem to be avoiding a mag drip, which is good because my nurse and the entire internet have told me that’s a horrible drug and I definitely don’t want it. My BP still spikes if I sit up (and truthfully, it’s still very high if I’m on upright at all), so I’m laying on my side, which is VERY uncomfortable. This epidural is WAY more intense than my other two. I can’t move my legs AT ALL and with the girls I could (though not very quickly). I’m very immobile and my legs are sort of dead in an uncomfortable way. I am spending all of my time on my side which is getting to be really uncomfortable. The afternoon wears on and I’m progressing, though more slowly than I thought I would.
By 5:19 I am “hungry, tired, and pissed off.” I feel overly managed. I’m frustrated he’s not here yet. I’m tired of people bothering me. I’m exhausted. I’m so hungry.
I’ve been at 7 cm for three hours. He’s not engaging, and his failure to move past -1 station makes me see the start of a path to a c-section. No progression. ACK. All I can think is, “I have had two vaginal deliveries PLEASE NO C-SECTION THIS TIME.” I’m so deflated. I think I’m FOR SURE going to end up in the OR. This already feels very different from my other deliveries. UGH. UGHHHHH. My water broke about an hour ago and I know there’s technically lots of time to deliver safely but….I don’t want to think about it too much. Truly, I trust Heather an awful lot and I chose her with a lot of care and whatever she says? It goes. I trust her. I’m so MAD about this maaaaaybe c-section thing but at that moment I do feel like if it’s what Heather thinks should happen? It should happen. SIGH. AGH. ACK ACK ACK. (I text as much to Lauren and Arwen.)
At 543, 23 minutes after my little breakdown over a possible c-section I am “maaaaaybe an 8.” I can’t help but feel this is a patronizing declaration meant to boost my spirits. My midwife talks serious with me and says she thinks he’s not engaging for a reason and that’s worrisome to her. We can wait it out a few hours before we go to the OR, but she’s definitely concerned at this point and I am too. Something is weird.
I break down after she leaves the room.
I have been basically unchanged for three hours on a max dose of pitocin. I am having VERY STRONG contractions per the internal monitor they placed an hour or so ago. About 6p I announce to Chris and (via text) Lauren and Arwen that I am scared. Because I am, I am scared kind of a lot. This doesn’t feel right. Everything feels wrong. I have done this before and it’s not supposed to feel like this. I text Lauren and Arwen and they immediately tell me they are praying for me and the baby.
At 619 I am complete. 10 cm! It’s baby time! WHOA. Lauren and Arwen prayed for me, and a speedy and safe delivery, twenty minutes ago and now this? THIS? It feels much more than a gift. It feels like an answered prayer. An immediate, answered prayer, and it felt powerful. I am not a flourishy person when it comes to religion but I will very honestly tell you that I have never felt God as much as I did in that moment. Let me say that again: I have never felt God as much as I did in that moment. While the room spun into motion to prepare for delivery I felt…watched over. I felt like He had helped me and this baby (this baby that felt like such a miracle in the first place!) and I felt deeply thankful.
Eight minutes later I delivered my son. They had offered me a mirror at some point and I declined because a mirror with Charlotte just distracted me. I am glad I declined. If I had seen, I might have panicked. His head was delivered, and it was blue. BLUE. I never saw him blue, but he emerged blue and Chris saw him blue and he told me later that he could tell he was stuck (and also BLUE OMG BLUE) and he thought something very, very bad was about to happen.
Shoulder Dystocia is rare, happening in about 1% of vaginal births. (For a baby of Preston’s size, the rate is .06%-1.4%) It happens when a baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal and it’s quite dangerous. Actually, it’s an “Obstetrical Emergency,” if you want to get technical about it. Paralysis isn’t uncommon. If you google it, scary phrases like this can appear:
Shoulder dystocia can be one of the most frightening emergencies in the delivery room.
Fetal demise can occur if the infant is not delivered, due to compression of the umbilical cord within the birth canal.
That’s what was happening to him. He was stuck, the cord was being compressed and it was also wrapped around his neck a few times. He had no oxygen. Thanks to the quick identification of the situation by my midwife, the help of another OB that just HAPPENED to poke her head in the room to see how things were going because several other women on the floor were also delivering, they maneuvered him out pretty fast. They told me to keep pushing and I did and then it was over.
And then I cried. I cried big, fat tears of relief. OVER. This pregnancy is over. My last pregnancy! OVER!
But…after he was delivered? There was a lot of fuss. They didn’t give him to me right away, and I found myself asking, “Is he okay? He’s okay? Is he okay? OKAY?” and I think someone told me he was. Maybe I heard someone say, “shoulder dystocia” and I knew it was a complication but I didn’t know how serious it was until I’d had a chance to Google it. I really hadn’t thought that he might NOT be okay until they starting fussing over him so much, but after Heather (and only Heather) told me he was fine, I laid back and let the tears roll down my face. I was so empty, physically and emotionally. I just felt so relieved. It was over and I was okay and he was okay and it was OVER. No more being pregnant. No more high blood pressures or worrying. I had no idea what had really just happened, but I knew it was at least over. Done.
I did it. Three pregnancies, three deliveries, DONE. All of my babies are here now. All here.
He’s on the warming table, being measured and suctioned and diapered and all those things they do to babies right away. I remember being completely exhausted, laying down and catching my breath, and looking at Chris as he watched over our son on that table and saying, “Preston? I think his name is Preston. Yes, Preston. you think so?” And Chris said yes, he knew it was just right, that it was obviously his name, and it was done.